Once upon a time and before she was elected to the Apple Valley Town Council, Barb Stanton was a leader of the High Desert Tea Party movement. She portrayed herself as a conservative opposed to higher taxes and government waste. She railed against the abuse and misuse of taxpayer dollars.
She ranted against Assemblyman Anthony Adams after he voted to raise taxes and opposed Anthony Riley when he ran to replace him. She ranted against the corruption in the city of Bell and the exorbitant pay their city manager and senior executives were paid.
The sad fact is that Stanton has morphed into the very thing she once opposed and become the politician that enjoys suckling the teat of the taxpayers. What happened to our conservative warrior?
It pains me to write these columns. I truly believed she didn’t just talk to talk – but that she walked the walk. I’ve considered Barb a friend and she endorsed me when I ran for office in 2016. However, I doubt she considers me a friend now since I have been calling her out in recent columns.
In fact, someone emailed me and rebuked me for being so harsh on Barb in my columns. But, what am I supposed to do when I find out that someone I once admired no longer practices what she preaches? Am I supposed to overlook hypocritical behavior simply because someone is/was a friend or a political ally?
In January, I started investigating the credit card and travel expenses of our Council members. Truth be told, I was expecting to find questionable expenses and reimbursements for other members of the Council – not Barb! The first column I wrote actually criticized Councilman Art Bishop for using the town credit card to pay for his wife’s airfare to a conference. (He reimbursed the town later, as is standard practice of Councilmembers.)
I just happened to stumble into these ridiculous and excessive Stanton expenses and charges. It really pained me to find out these details. But sometimes the truth is ugly and uncomfortable.
I discovered that Barb Stanton is the only member of the Apple Valley Town Council that has her personal cell phone paid for by taxpayers. All told, taxpayers have shelled out about $10,000 since 2011 to cover her $120 a month cell phone bill. When you find out the Tea Party crusader has become the “Obama Phone” toting hypocrite that spends $1,500 on a hotel for a two-night conference, there is no choice but to expose these shenanigans.
Apparently, she has not appreciated my calling her out on this hypocrisy. At the April 16 meeting (which can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/2qUN8yH), the Council discussed things they could do to close the $2.6 million budget deficit, including whether or not the Council should also cut back on its own expenses.
Barb threw a ridiculous temper tantrum at the 1:06:00 mark. “I am going to make it very clear that if we are going to no cell phone, I am going to fight that. Because we work very, very hard for very little,” Barb whined.
But, it gets worse. She complained that she basically worked for free and that she was being asked to pay money out of her own pocket to be a councilwoman. She said sarcastically, “Why don’t we work for free and donate all our salary? Come on. I am not doing that.”
And it gets worse. She goes on to say, “I don’t get a reimbursement for vehicle usage and tires and mileage. I do get a stipend for gas but it doesn’t equate as you all know.”
This is categorically untrue and she was eventually corrected by her colleagues. The truth is that each member of the Council gets a monthly vehicle allowance of $570.
According to the IRS, this is equivalent to the cost associated with driving 1,050 miles per month. It is insulting for her to suggest that she doesn’t get her vehicle usage covered. There is no way that any of these council members are driving more than 1,000 miles a month to attend a couple of council meetings and any other official business. It is preposterous.
The truth is that Barb and the rest of her colleagues on the Council earn close to $30,000 a year in compensation. Each month, they get an $811 salary, $570 car allowance, free health benefits, and a CalPERS pension benefit.
Nobody forced Stanton to run for Council. And she spends more time on airplanes and junkets than at actual Council meetings. When Barb publicly states that getting free healthcare benefits or $30,000 a year in compensation for a part-time job is practically working for “free,” then it is clear she has become unmoored from her principles.
Or perhaps, after years of signing off on giving town managers and assistant town managers $300,000 plus per year, Barb really does feel like she is working for free.
If you have suggestions on subjects or comments please contact me at [email protected]
Source: Daily Press